The Alberta government released its latest forecast for population growth out to 2046. The forecast is that the Alberta population will grow by another 2.1 million people in the next 28 years. By comparison Alberta’s population in 1990 was 2.5 million and we gained 1.8 million to reach 4.3 today. So, it would seem that the forecast has Alberta adding more people in next 3 decades than we did during the last 3 decades.
The forecast assumes an annual growth rate of roughly 1.5% with some fluctuations. It further assumes that most of the people will live in Edmonton and Calgary and in the corridor between the two cities. The cities and corridor are only 6% of the land base but house 75% of the population today. By 2046, 80% of Albertans will live in that corridor. Rural areas will see population growth much slower than average with some continuing to decline.
Natural increases will grow the population. These days about 157 new babies are born and about 70 people die. The forecasted math in 2046 estimates 200 new babies born and 180 people dying.
Not quite so morbid are the forecasts for interprovincial migration. In the past 3 decades Alberta jobs were a magnet for people from the rest of Canada. That was reversed for two years during the recession. But migration to the province is on the upswing again. The forecast out to 2046 shows that almost 20% of the population growth will come via migration from other provinces. Adding roughly 380,000 new citizens.
The main driver of population increase will be immigrants. About 1 million people, nearly 50% of the expected growth, will come from new arrivals from outside the country.
The difficulty with forecasts are they are almost always wrong!
And this forecast is built on two fundamental assumptions. First, it is largely the energy and resource sector growth that created the past trendline for this forecast. It was the economy and jobs that brought people to the province. Most forecasts show demand for energy will grow well into the decade of 2040. But will Canada choose not to participate as an energy exporter?
If technological and societal change along with the anti-oilsands lobby limits new oilsands investment the growth scenario will be much different.
Secondly, the assumption that immigration will bring another million people to the province is linked to economic opportunity and immigration policy. Perhaps Canada’s open-door policy will change, just as we see changes and shifts in Europe and the USA today.
Severely Normal Albertans should see this forecast as just one data source. Our growth will be depend upon a common sense resource development policy and equally common sense approach to immigration.